February 17, 2012

Federal Minister of Justice

Exmo. Ministro
Sr. José Eduardo Cardozo
Ministério da Justiça
Esplanada dos Ministérios, Bloco “T”, 70712-902 – Brasília/DF Brasil
Fax: + 55 61 3322 6817/ 3224 3398

Federal Human Rights Secretary

Secretaria Especial de Direitos Humanos
Exmo. Secretário Especial
Sra. Maria do Rosário Nunes
Esplanada dos Ministérios, Bloco “T” – 4º andar, 70064-900 Brasília/DF – Brasil
Fax: + 55 61 3226 7980

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,500 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our extreme alarm regarding the recent murders of journalists Paulo Roberto Cardoso Rodrigues and Mario Randolpho Marques Lopes.

According to our information, on February 12, Paulo Roberto Cardoso Rodrigues (better known as Paulo Rocaro), editor of the local daily Jornal Da Praça and news web site Mercosul News, was shot at least five times by two armed men on a motorcycle as he was returning home from a meeting with a rival mayoral candidate. Rocaro reported on politics and had been critical of the local mayor. The killing took place near the Paraguayan border, a region of Brazil known for organized crime and political corruption. Police are investigating the crime as a possible contract killing, and are looking into political motives, among others.

Three days earlier, on February 8, 2012, Mario Randolpho Marques Lopes, editor-in-chief of the news web site Vassouras na Net, was abducted from his home in Barro do Piraí in Rio de Janeiro along with his girlfriend. They were found dead the next day, February 9. Randolpho was shot in the head. He had previously been the victim of violence in July 2011, when an unidentified gunman entered the Vassouras na Net office and shot Randolpho in the head five times, from which Randolpho miraculously recovered. He wrote articles about local corruption, most recently accusing local judges and courts.

PEN American Center is incredibly alarmed by the murders of journalists Paulo Roberto Cardoso Rodrigues and Mario Randolpho Marques Lopes, which bore the hallmarks of contracted assassinations. In the last two years, seven print journalists have been killed in Brazil, a troubling trend targeting journalists who report on official corruption. We therefore call on the Brazilian authorities to carry out a full and impartial investigation into the killings as a matter of urgency, and to ensure that the culprits are brought to justice.

Thank you for your attention to this crucial matter.

Hannah Pakula
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: Ambassador Mauro Vieira
Embassy of Brazil
3006 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Fax: (202)238-2827

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